Friday, July 26, 2013

Repost: What Lies Beneath

This is one from this past winter on the old blog that I liked, so I'm reposting it here.

My library has a piano that patrons can use. It's very popular, with people often signing up for an hour each day to use the private space for practice. It's a lovely service in an area with a lot of people who can't have an instrument of their own, let alone one so large and expensive - but that's not what I love most about having the piano here.

The most beautiful music  flows gently from around the solid door, which locks firmly behind the occupant, leaving them tucked into a little world of their own. The room, the music, is an escape for some of our patrons whose lives contain some hardships. It's a place where they can shut all of that out of the snug little room and lose themselves in creating something beautiful, wrapping themselves in the joy or sadness of the music.

But for me, the very best part is when I need to let someone know the next person is here to use the room. I approach the door, and am treated, for a moment or two, to the loveliest music. We have some really skilled players, and it's a delight to hear their song drifting through that door. Then I knock, and when the door opens, I see someone sitting there. They are always graciously getting ready to leave, appreciative of the time they've had in there, and very often, someone you might not have guessed would have that skill and beauty in them. I love this.

I love that this reminds me that you never know what's in someone, and makes me look twice at everyone, ready to see clues to who they are under a rough exterior, past a smell of smoke or alcohol or slept-in clothes. I love to have it demonstrated so perfectly clearly that there is beauty in unexpected places, in people who don't get the chance to exhibit it in most areas of their life.

The man in shabby clothes, hair unkempt and skin roughened by elements and years and hard living, colours muted to grey with wear, who spins melodies from keys and notes floating in his memory. The nearly toothless man who has just begun to read for pleasure who wants something that makes him thinks about bigger things. The man who lives in a hostel and can only borrow one or two items at a time, but comes each morning after his graveyard shift to read, trading in his book pretty much every day or other day. There is a soul of curiosity, a longing for some beauty in the world, a love for learning or losing themselves in a good story, to which I can fully relate.

It's these things that make me so very happy to do what I do, and be able to give these people the things that make life a little better for them, or give them an escape that won't drag them down. In turn, I get the gift of seeing them more clearly, a reminder to look deeper.

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